The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Matthew Lackner, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) and leading wind energy expert, has been appointed to the Endowed Chair in Renewable Energy by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.

The chair was established in 2014 with $2.5 million in funding from the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER), with the goal of attracting and supporting preeminent scholars in the field to provide leadership in positioning both the university and the Commonwealth to take advantage of opportunities in emerging areas of renewable energy. As the holder of the chair, Lackner will work in collaboration with state agencies responsible for renewable energy and will conduct research in the field.

Lackner’s research centers on offshore wind energy, with a particular focus on the aerodynamics and structural control of floating offshore wind turbines. He joined the College of Engineering as an assistant professor in 2009.

He currently serves as the Director of the Wind Energy Center, the nation's preeminent wind energy program, as well as ELEVATE, the graduate training and research program within the Energy Transition Institute that focuses on technical, equity, and climate challenges in the energy transition.

In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate engineering courses, Lackner has created and taught several original courses, including Wind Turbine Design, Offshore Wind Energy Engineering, Propulsion System Performance, Wind Energy System Design, and Collegiate Wind Competition.

Upon receiving the news of the appointment, Lackner reflected: “In 2005, while a Masters student at MIT working on jet engine research, I become passionate about sustainable energy and especially wind energy. I left MIT to pursue a PhD at UMass Amherst because of the Wind Energy Center, which has a long and distinguished history going back to 1972. Simply put, if you want to learn about wind energy, UMass Amherst is the place to be.

Over the past 14 years I have worked with wonderful colleagues and bright students to continue the legacy of the Wind Energy Center. We have also expanded our focus to tackle the many challenges of the Energy Transition. This appointment to the Chair in Renewable Energy is truly an honor, and I look forward to continuing UMass's leadership in renewable energy and sustainability.”

Lackner has published 86 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and conference proceedings to date, and has received numerous grants and fellowships in support of his research and teaching, including awards from the US Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, GE Renewables, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the USGS Geological Survey.

In 2020, he was the PI on the two NSF grants totaling $6.3 million that supported the creation of ELEVATE.

Lackner’s other awards and recognitions include being named the UMass Amherst Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year, a College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, the Best New Technology Poster at the American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower Conference, and the Best Wind Energy Paper from the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering.

He received his BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 2002, his MS in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2007. He completed his postdoctoral research at the Technical University of Delft, in the Netherlands.

Lackner’s appointment officially commences on July 1st. He will be the second holder of the Endowed Chair in Renewable Energy; the inaugural holder was Krish Thiagarajan Sharman, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, who held the chair from 2018 to 2022 and is now Emeritus Chair in Renewable Energy. 

(June 2023)

Article posted in Faculty